In 2010, I entered the Army as an officer, solemnly swearing to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” It was the proudest moment of my life, continuing a family tradition of service stretching back three generations to World War II. I remember the awesome weight of my oath as I pledged to serve during a time of war. That oath later led me to make the most difficult decision of my life. In May of 2016, I sued President Obama for issuing an illegal order for me to engage in the battle against the Islamic State. I believe his order violates the Constitution and the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which forbids on-going warfare without the specific consent of Congress.
I made this decision while assigned as an intelligence officer to the command headquarters of Operation Inherent Resolve in Kuwait, and only after months of internal turmoil. Over and over, I weighed the obligation to my oath against my desire to continue serving with my unit against a reprehensible enemy. In 2015, the law professor Bruce Ackerman explained in The Atlantic why he believed an individual soldier would have standing to challenge the president’s decision. Holding the deep concerns I did on the mission’s legality, I read that article, and after much further contemplation, decided I was compelled to act by my loyalty to the Constitution. I remember blankly staring at the computer screen before hitting the button to send the email with my signed legal paperwork. This simple act meant that I would be unable to continue my family’s tradition of career military service, and that I might not be allowed to finish the last four months of a year-long deployment with my soldiers. I believe I did not have a choice.